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  • Chicago Teachers' Strike: Unthinkable and Intolerable

    “Unthinkable and intolerable.” So President Franklin Delano Roosevelt considered strikes by government employees. Karen Lewis, the president of the Chicago Teachers’ Union (CTU), has a different view. She called a strike to block Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s (D) education reforms.

    Chicago Public Schools have a 40 percent dropout rate. Emanuel considers that unacceptable. He has proposed evaluating teachers on how their students learn. With Chicago’s finances tight, he proposed giving teachers a raise of “only” 8 percent.

    Chicago Public School already teachers enjoy the highest average pay of any district in the nation—$76,000 a year, plus benefits. (The CTU argues it is only $71,000 after taking out contributions for their pensions and health care.) The union wanted a 30 percent raise but has indicated it could settle for the 16 percent the city is now offering (raising average annual pay to $88,000).

    But the union adamantly opposes the mayor’s education reforms. They want the teacher evaluations watered down. They also want the school district to rehire teachers who lose their jobs in layoffs or school closings—no matter how ineffective they are. Emanuel refused, so the union shut down Chicago’s schools.

    The union has a great deal of leverage in its strike. It can prevent more than 350,000 children from receiving an education. It has forced parents to find other ways of caring for their kids while they work. Many children will wander the streets—police are beefing up patrols to forestall trouble.

    The union prefers having children pay this price to letting the district fire bad teachers. This is not exactly surprising. Unions serve their members’ interests first. No union would sacrifice its members’ job security to spare parents from a strike.

    This is why collective bargaining does not belong in government—and why more states should emulate Governor Scott Walker’s (R–WI) reforms. No competitors exist to pick up the government’s slack. Unlike in the private sector, a government strike shuts down vital services entirely. The government exists to serve the common good, but unions exist to serve themselves. They should not have the power to shut down the government to get their way.

    FDR agreed:

    Since their own services have to do with the functioning of the Government, a strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government until their demands are satisfied. Such action, looking toward the paralysis of Government by those who have sworn to support it, is unthinkable and intolerable.

    Posted in Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    23 Responses to Chicago Teachers' Strike: Unthinkable and Intolerable

    1. Phil_EngAmer says:

      You would hope this gets resolved soon. Teachers in the district are already making a ton of money before benefits (http://cbsloc.al/Qg6eW0), and the results in the district are hardly inspiring. When you see demands like these made despite diminishing results, it’s no wonder the public is losing faith in public schools (http://bit.ly/LmszmU).

    2. Rupert Cox says:

      If teachers arent allowed to strike, then I assume you feel they need to just accept whatever the district offers and get back to work..That gives the school district a lot of power doesnt it? I am guesing you would feel differently if you were a teacher and didnt agree with the offer.

    3. Luanne says:

      This is unbelievable! Chicago teachers make twice as much as I did when I retired from teaching in Idaho. I was at the top of the pay scale! I never belonged to the teachers' union, because I was working for the public and the good of the students–demanding more for a job which is a service is just wrong!

    4. Paul says:

      They should all be required to be in the classroom or be fired! With all the unemployment in this country it shouldn't be too difficult to replace those who attempt to dictate terms to their employers(taxpayers).

    5. sm423 says:

      the "facts" in this article are sketchy, at best. and to narrow down the sticking points to salary, evaluation and rehiring teachers is an inaccurate depiction of what teachers are truly fighting for here. i personally don't think there is a point in arguing within the comment section of articles, but just asking ppl to do their due diligence in research

    6. Sarah Conner says:

      Like any job in the real world ,you either do it right or you will be replaced .In order to get a raise you will be evaluated ….if you are not up to par you will not receive an increase in your paycheck.This is how the private sector works .What I find most telling about the Chicago teachers is the fact that their children attend private schools .So their children are in school while 350,000 Chicago children are not .Interesting .

    7. I agree with FDR on this issue. However, there should be some alternative to collective bargaining. I am at a loss regarding how public servants should bargain for their pay.

    8. Sarah Conner says:

      350,000 children in Chicago are not in school because of union teachers on strike for more pay ,and they don't want to have their performance evaluated .In the real world to receive a pay raise you are evaluated . If you aren't doing your job you will be replaced .This is the private sector's way of weeding out the lazy ,nonproductive personnel and replacing them with productive people .The children of these same teachers are in school….private schools .

    9. Susan Daniels says:

      It's all a ploy so Obama can ride in on a white horse to save the day. Then the country will love him and vote for him. How stupid and shallow do the libs think we are?

    10. Lloyd Scallan says:

      After Wisconsin, and the side Obama choose, everyone should realize that it's about unions control. Unions demand to not be accountable to other Americans. It's all about power, and Obama supports it.

    11. JDusek says:

      There is an alternative, that is charter, private and home schools. While these cost money, what is the comparative advantage to paying incompetent teachers more money through taxes? Fire the teachers, lower the tax rates, give parents the ability to educate their children elsewhere.

    12. Frank Stephens says:

      Too often people are confused by private sector unions and public sector (government) unions.

      One, private sector unions, serves a legitimate purpose. The other, government unions, do not.

      Milwaukee Teachers Education Association member and college instructor Brian Verdin said, “The ideas of socialism are as American as apple pie.” He’s a Marxist teacher who wants to bring a socialist revolution to the United States, and he’s very proud of that stance.

      University professors freely put up Obama reelection posters in classrooms even as nearly 50% of students drop out of school high school. College students graduate as uneducated Marxist having an entitlement mentality and without the ability to a coherent sentence.

      We must take back our institutions of education.

    13. Ellen says:

      A true story — Two teachers — sisters. One teaching Social Studies in a high school. Students love her –she is a great teacher. The other sister teaching in an elementary school — 2nd grade. The kindest thing I can say about her is that she is incompetent. Why is she still teaching — tenure. How do I know this? I was a secretary in the elementary school — later a member of the Board of Education — then president of that board. Both got increases in salary every year.

    14. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      Screw the teachers' unions! De-certify them! FDR and George Meaney were right. Government employees shouldn't be unionized. JFK was wrong.

      • d.j. says:

        I am a government employee and a member of a union. To be more specific I am a firefighter. The only reason I receive the pay and benefits I do is through Collective Bargaining from my union. If not for my union, the city I work for could set my wage at whatever they feel necessary (minimum wage for example)….Now, as for going on strike, firefighters are not allowed to strike due to us being an essential service (Which I think is great and see no need for us to strike). Anyway, my point is that I feel that unions are a good thing (at least in my situation), and that those employees aren't always greedy, but instead would simply like to make a decent (or at least mediocre) living doing what they love. In my case, risking my life seems a little easier to handle receiving decent pay and benefits instead of minimum wage.

    15. Peg Fisk says:

      As a high school English teacheor for 30 years, I know that we all resent the teacher who doesn't care, doesn't plan and relies on the union to back him/her up. I think we would all be happier–teachers, kids, and parents alike– to see these teachers out of the profession.

    16. Roadrash says:

      Unlawful and that is all we need to shut down this particular union._

    17. Patriot53 says:

      It is certainly time to eliminate the ability for any government workers to strike – no matter the conditions. And having worked in government back in the days when my position was professional, before unionization, I can also say it was a LOT better working condition. Unions automatically bring a "fighting" attitude into any place they come. My entire field was eliminated because it became so strident and impossible to work. Is that good representation? I think not. I support firing ALL government strikers, lowering all the pay and reducing benefits for any new hires.

    18. STAY ON STRIKE UNTIL ALL PBIC SCREWELLS SHUT DOWN! That is the only waty you will ever prove to me you care about the kids!

    19. michelle says:

      They did not get an 8% raise. They did not get a 4% raise. They got a 2.5% COLA raise this year, but they did not get any COLA raise in the previous 2 years.

      Check your facts, you amateur.

    20. ALSZ says:

      There is a missing piece to this discussion – the parents.

      Having watched my parents work as public school educators for 30 years, and having been a public school graduate myself, I have seen year after year the affects parents have on their children's education. Students with parents who care, and who are integrally involved in the education process, will succeed, regardless of race, national origin, socio-economic status or any other factors we'd like to present as influential. Many of them will even succeed in light of bad teachers. When parents recognize that their children's education begins and ends with them, and that the teacher is really a knowledgeable assistant in the education process, students will succeed. When parents make education a priority, so do students, and this is when true learning happens.

      The reciprocal of this is that when parents are not integrally involved, students fail. They will fail no matter how good a teacher is or how hard a teacher works. They will fail regardless of race or socio-economic status. It isn't politically correct to say this, but it is true.

      The current evaluation system punishes teachers when parents do not take responsibility for their children's education. We're trying to weed out bad teachers, and the evaluation system will do some of that – but what about all the great teachers who will be weeded out as well because they aren't being supported by parents. Until someone comes up with an equitable way of evaluating teachers – one that eliminates factors like parental involvement and standardized test results – I cannot support the evaluation process.

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